The phrase 'white working class' doesn't help low income groups, say think tanks


The use of the label "white working class" is not helping the people it refers to, two think tanks have claimed. 

Researchers said the phrase is "all talk and no action" and called for central and local government to implement policies to benefit all low-income groups.

The key to improving economic conditions for the white working class is for ministers to take action to help all deprived communities, according to the Runneymede Trust and CLASS, which are publishing a joint report on Tuesday.

They argue that the "left behind" are the white working class and ethnic minority working class, saying these groups have close shared interests even though they voted differently on Brexit.

Dr Omar Khan, director of the Runnymede Trust, said: "The white working class have more in common with poor ethnic minority communities than they do with the white middle and upper classes.

"Poor white and BME (black and minority ethnic) people are bound by shared experiences of social deprivation, but there is also more social interaction between them than between the richest and poorest thirds of white people."

He added: "The label white working class isn't helping the white working class because it is all talk and no action.

"Rather than offer a desperate and empty form of ethnonationalism, the best way to raise up this section of society is for central and local government to adopt policies to benefit all working class communities."

The think tanks are calling on Home Secretary Amber Rudd to revive a measure which would oblige public authorities to take into account disadvantage and inequalities when making decisions about policies.

Known as the "socio-economic duty", the requirement was included in Labour's Equality Act but abandoned within months of the 2010 election. 

Dr Faiza Shaheen, director of CLASS, said the Brexit vote is  "now being used to justify an idea of 'white self-interest'".

She added: "If we are to have a truly 'United' Kingdom we must return to speaking about the real issues that hurt the whole working class - low wages, the housing crisis and devastating cuts to our public services.

"At a critical juncture in UK history, we cannot afford to let the divisive white working class narrative continue unchallenged."